Whit Fosburgh

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posted in: General

January 8, 2013

What Happened in 2012?

From the standpoint of conservation, 2012 will be remembered more for what did not happen than what did happen.

Justifying its place in history as the least productive Congress of all time, the 112th Congress failed to consider the needs of hunters and anglers in a number of big ways. Let’s look at some of the lowlights:

The Farm Bill

Regardless of the strong bipartisan support enjoyed by the Farm Bill, the full bill died in the Senate at the end of 2012. Congress instead passed a nine-month extension that jeopardizes many of the bill’s key conservation programs. If a full Farm Bill fails to pass by October 2013, the Conservation Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program and other key conservation provisions will lose billions in conservation dollars.

President and CEO of the TRCP, Whit Fosburgh, reflects on what 2012 meant for sportsmen. Photo by Dusan Smetana.

The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, a near party-line vote by Senate Republicans (the exception being Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine) on a procedural motion effectively killed the bill that had drawn broad bipartisan support throughout the legislative process.

Why did this happen? Because Senate Republicans used the bill to make a political point on a totally unrelated issue (filibuster reform) at the expense of sportsmen. Seeing that others were willing to use the bill to make political statements, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) objected to the bill’s provision on lead ammunition. As a result of these political detours, the clock ran out on the Sportsmen’s Act. Now sportsmen have to start all over again in 2013

Conservation Funding

Congressional inaction was actually a good thing for conservation funding. Instead of passing the House budget bill, which would have gutted most important conservation programs, Congress passed a continuing resolution keeping in place current funding levels through March of 2013.

Similarly, by punting sequestration down the road, sportsmen were spared across-the-board cuts that would have been extremely damaging to programs upon which our outdoor traditions rely. We now must make the case for these important programs as the 113th Congress considers a broader budget deal later in the year.

Public Lands

The 112th Congress succeeded in being the first congress in nearly 70 years to fail to pass a single public lands bill.

After the carnage, a few highlights emerge. Congress passed the RESTORE Act, ensuring that 80 percent of damages from the BP oil spill go back to the Gulf states for restoration. And Congress passed the Billfish Conservation Act, a small but important measure that bans the importation of marlin, sailfish and spearfish.

Unfortunately, Congress was not the only disappointment in 2012. The Obama administration has yet to implement many of the oil and gas leasing reforms announced in 2010, and millions of acres of public lands continue to be leased without proper consideration of fish and wildlife and hunting and fishing.

The administration also failed to issue new regulations to affirm that the Clean Water Act applies to isolated wetlands and intermittent streams, an inaction that contributes to massive wetland conversions in the Prairie Pothole region and elsewhere. To its credit, the administration did launch a major new program to work with private landowners to conserve sage grouse and six other species.

Despite the bleak year that has ended, the sporting community is setting new priorities for working with Congress in 2013. Be ready to join in and make your voice heard – our outdoor traditions will depend on it.

One Response to “What Happened in 2012?”

  1. Davey Lubin

    Perhaps now, TRCP will vigorously move to prevent passage of the legislation that seeks to transfer tens of thousands of acres of Tongass National Forest lands to the private, for profit, Sealaska Corporation. What do you say folks? Wholeheartedly support public access for sportsman, into perpetuity, or will you continue to ignore this monumental threat?

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posted in: General

December 11, 2012

Tackling Fiscal Responsibility for the TRCP

Bob Hale
TRCP Financial Director Bob Hale makes sure that 82.2 percent of TRCP revenue goes to conservation programs.

It’s the end of the year, and a dozen holiday emails are likely waiting in your inbox.

This note is different.

I’m not going to try and pull your heartstrings or appeal to the policy experts out there.  You’ve seen other posts like that already.

I’m the director of finance at the TRCP and I’ve got a different perspective on how we fulfill our mission.  It’s my job to develop the annual budget, keep the organization fiscally responsible and run each year’s audit. As you have probably guessed, I’m a numbers guy.

My work here at the TRCP is vitally important. I want to share two of the TRCP’s accomplishments from the past year: The TRCP earned a spot in the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance and the GuideStar Seal of Accountability.

These two accolades show that the TRCP maintains the highest level of transparency and accountability among other businesses and  non-profits. We know that in order to gain trust and remain effective, the TRCP must focus on providing relevant and reliable information to our stakeholders in a way that is free from bias, comparable, understandable and focused on stakeholders’ legitimate needs.

All of us here at the TRCP work together to cut down costs and establish our credibility as a transparent and accountable organization. By displaying the Better Business Bureau and GuideStar seals on our website, we hope to show the public that we are proactive in ensuring the highest levels of fiscal responsibility.

Overhead costs such as rent, computer network, admin salaries and benefits comprise 17.8 percent of the budget.  That means that 82.2 percent of revenue goes to conservation programs directly related to our mission.

If you choose to donate to the TRCP, you can do so with the knowledge that your money will make a difference in helping us fulfill our mission of guaranteeing you a place to hunt and fish. I’ll make sure of it.

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posted in: General

December 4, 2012

Sportsmen: Too Early to Tell With Oil Shale

Oil shale is getting so much attention lately that it’s starting to feel like a cure-all pill for whatever ails us.

Need more energy? Have some oil shale.

Fiscal cliff got you down? How about a little oil shale?

The problem with this assessment is, fundamentally, we’re just not there yet. We have been hearing this same promise for decades. A viable commercial oil shale industry has yet to exist. And as we move forward, oil shale development needs to be done with considerable thought and caution.

Or so say the leaders from some of the nation’s most influential sportsmen’s groups, conservation organizations and scientific societies in a letter sent to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week.

“Research must precede any commercial leasing,” the letter states, “and that research must demonstrate that extraction technologies and mitigation options exist that will protect clean air and water, conserve fish and wildlife, and sustain the economies that depend on those resources.”

To be clear, we are not saying oil shale is bad – the problem is it’s too early to tell. There are significant concerns still associated with oil shale development – concerns like   water supply, water quality and impacts to wildlife populations. They should not be taken lightly.

This is classic, “cart before the horse” type behavior – but it seems the BLM is working to right that situation. Its plan, released in early November, balances acres dedicated to oil shale research with protecting fish and wildlife habitat.

You can make a difference. Speak out on oil shale development today.

Here’s what sportsmen are saying: Go slow. Let’s do this right. Think clearly. Evaluate what we stand to gain against what we could lose. And if we get to a point where oil shale technology is viable and impacts are acceptable, then we can make decisions about when and where. But we’re not there just yet.

This post was written by  Shauna Sherard, communications director at Trout Unlimited and was originally posted on the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development blog.

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posted in: General

November 27, 2012

Congressional Bickering Leaves Sportsmen in the Lurch

We called the Sportsmen’s Act easy to love for a reason. Until yesterday it appeared that a large majority of lawmakers in Congress agreed.

The bill recognizes the broad economic and social impacts of conservation, improves access for sportsmen and supports habitat conservation. It integrates 17 separate bills, including the Making Public Lands Public Access Act, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act and the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. It also would reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Yet the Sportsmen’s Act failed to garner enough support from Senators last night to pass a procedural vote, and thus its prospects of success remain uncertain at best.

The Sportsmen’s Act failed to garner enough support to pass a procedural vote and thus its prospects of success remain uncertain at best. Photo by Dusan Smetana.

Until yesterday’s Senate vote, the Sportsmen’s Act had passed all legislative hurdles with widespread support from both political parties – a rarity in such a divisive political environment. But somehow, even after Americans expressed strong distaste for partisan politics, dysfunctional gridlock returned to Congress.

With their backs up against the so-called fiscal cliff, elected officials from both sides of the aisle locked antlers again. American sportsmen are paying the price.

Hunters and anglers are experiencing the fallout from congressional inaction as access dwindles, development diminishes opportunities for sportsmen and funding for conservation disappears.

More than 91 million U.S. residents fished, hunted or wildlife watched in 2011 – that is more 25 percent of the U.S. population. From big-game hunters in Wyoming to carp fishermen in suburban lakes and everyone in between, we are a force to be reckoned with. And we vote.

A diverse alliance of powerful groups ranging from the National Rifle Association to The Nature Conservancy has joined forces in support of the Sportsmen’s Act. Together, in the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt, we will continue to stand up for sportsmen.

The TRCP and our partners are working with congressional leaders and members of the sporting community to form partnerships on the Hill and in the field that will benefit our sporting traditions for current and future generations.

In the coming days and weeks we will be asking for your voice in this fight. Be ready.

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posted in: General

October 29, 2012

Presidential Candidates Should Make Energy and Public Lands in the West a Priority

“Sportsmen and women understand that not every president can be as passionate an outdoorsman as Theodore Roosevelt. We do expect, however, that candidates for president understand the importance of keeping public lands in public hands while also acting on the need to balance energy development with abundant fish and wildlife populations, clean air and water, and recreational opportunities that include hunting and fishing. Both candidates would do well to listen to sportsmen and women.”

Read more at Denverpost.com.

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